Comment
 
It was  year ago today that the Save Stony Stratford Library campaign started clearing it’s beloved branch of books in order to increase publicity and thus pressure on their council.  The scheme worked, probably beyond the campaigners’ wildest dreams, leading to articles such as this and this and this and then, well, it just snowballed.  One year later and Stony Stratford Library is still open.  Well done to them. 

426 libraries (335 buildings and 91 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

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News

  • Charities scared to speak out amid cuts, says report - Guardian.  In a pointed reference to the government’s “big society” rhetoric, the panel warned that charities’ contributions to society could be eroded if safeguards were not introduced to preserve their independent voice.” … “The proportion of voluntary sector organisations delivering public services rose from 20% to 31% between 2008 and 2010. But the overall funding pot is shrinking, with some estimating as much as £3bn could be lost from the charity sector by 2015 as a result of Whitehall and local government funding cuts..”
  • Computer charging - Posting on PUB-LIBs discussion site on current state of play, anonymised from responses by discussion board members.
  • It’s time to privatize the Chicago Public Library System - Concerned Citizens of Chatham (USA).   ” It would help the system make good on the promise, of building stand alone branches, it made to a number of communities. Also, they could restore extended hours to those facilities that justify the need and bring in modern technology (i.e computers, e-readers, etc). When we look at most college bookstores in our city. most carry as many books as our branch libraries. Would it be a strech for them to start a new division to run libraries?”
  • Reading Agency to cheer up readers - BookSeller.  “The launch will kick off with an event at Canada Water library on Monday 23rd January with authors Mark Haddon and Michael Rosen, whose essays both feature in Stop What You’re Doing and Read This!. The book will feature as BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week” between 9th and 13th January, with Vintage also launching a digital marketing campaign this month to encourage debate around the importance of reading.”
  • We need libraries single/tour - “We Need Libraries single released 29th January to coincide with National Libraries Day 4th Debruary, all profits going to library campaigns,available at itunes,amazon etc this is the amazon link,please keep it! http://www.amazon.co.uk/We-Need-Libraries/dp/B006TOAT2U. It will be accompanied by a tour,1st confirmed gig 30th January Manchester Ram and Shackle, Wilmslow Road, more to be confirmed soon including hopefully a London date! If you are a promoter or venue please get in touch with me if you would like me do a gig at your venue/night ,or if you’re just a punter please suggest a gig to any suitable venues/nights email weneedlibraries@hotmail.co.uk”

Changes

Local News

  • Brighton and Hove – Greens asked to “come clean” over Brighton and Hove library services - Argus.  The Green minority administration says it must carry out the steps, which includes a review into library opening hours and not replacing the mobile library, to meet the Government-imposed cuts.”.  ““Quite clearly, it appears that the Greens have the manual on U-turns out on long-term loan.””. Conservatives attacking Greens for being pro-library in opposition and now planning £170k (4% cuts).  [To be fair to the Greens, this is probably one of the lowest cuts in the country and they are planning to replace a mobile library with a new library - Ed.]
  • East Sussex – Multi-million pound expansion plan for Hastings Library - Observer series. “library service in Hastings is set to be expanded under a multi-million pound plan which could include a new archive and register office.”, “refurbish the existing library and bring together the adult and children’s library on one expanded site. The register office and archive service could also be relocated to the new building.”
“We live in times when library services in some other parts of the country are being cut back. It is very encouraging that we will be getting an enhanced library facility.”

  • Gloucestershire – Change in library hours welcomed - Cotswold Journal.  Moreton Library will have its hours extended from 12 to 23 after Gloucestershire County Council approved plans to share the library premises with other bodies.” … “Library users in the Cotswolds have something to look forward to this year with library hours returning to normal in some areas.”.  In comments, campaigners says “There seems to have been some important information ommited here. Gloucestershire County Council have to reinstate ALL library opening hours to previous levels on order of the High Court after their library cuts plans were ruled unlawful in November 2011.”.  Article also includes description of Oxfordshire library moves towards keeping libraries open with volunteers.
  • Kirklees – Protest meeting in Honley over library plans in villages - Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  Meeting organised by Book Group over plans to transfer seven libraries to volunteers. 
  • Liverpool – Letter to Liverpool Echo about library cuts - Alan Gibbons.  “As a city and a country can we really afford to downgrade the importance of literacy in this way? Are too many of our citizens reading Shakespeare and Dickens, Shelley and Bainbridge? Are hospitals full of people suffering the effects of a literacy overdose?”
  • North Somerset – Plans for library cuts unveiled - Mercury.   £347k cut in three years, inc. opening hours and staffing cuts, more self-service and more volunteers.  ““We want to continue to provide library services to communities that currently get them. For us to do this we are proposing some changes to opening hours and different ways of working, but this is better than closing libraries completely.”
  • Oxfordshire – Office move sparks fears for future of library - Oxford Mail.   Oxford Council is closing its offices that share the building of Headington Library, causing worries about the future of this “core” library.
  • Sandwell – Controversy as Sandwell Council cuts to opening hoursHalesown News. 20% budget cut over next 3 years: 6 libraries (Cradley Heath, Blackheath, Brandhall, Bleakhouse, Rounds Green and Langley) to have reduced hours, services will be merged with other authorities, less staff, more self-service.    “Cabinet member for leisure services Councillor Linda Horton said: “The council is facing significant reductions in its funding and in line with expected reductions Libraries and Archives face a 20 per cent loss of net expenditure budget over the next three years.”
  • Surrey – Novel approach as library campaigner wins award - Get Surrey.  East Horsley Parish Council has given award to Mr Smee who “was most notably involved in the campaign to save Horsley Library after Surrey County Council announced that several would be turned into volunteer-run community sites.”
    • Spiteful vandalism of precious library - SLAM.  Tattenhams Library has had counter taken away, with services entirely replaced by one self-service machine.
      “This library is now out of the loop. The supply of new books has dried up. Staff cannot help the public to request books, to override the system when sensible, or to look up their PIN if a computer is free. As time goes on I’m sure users will be shocked at how little “service” is left. Staff are reduced to shelving and to helping disgruntled, if not furious, people to borrow and return books. What a way to spend their last weeks in a job that they used to love.”

  • Warwickshire – First community library opens in Kineton - BBC.   “Kineton branch is now run by Friends of Kineton Library after Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet approved cuts to the service last year.”.  Users can issue with council library cards.  Article includes video with chairman.
“Mike Harris, chairman of Friends of Kineton Library, said: “It’s very important that we have a library in village, particularly for the elderly who will be able to have access to books. The village is losing facilities, such as the police and fire stations, and as ordinary citizens we can’t do much about it. But when the library closed, we could do something about it and maintain the availability of the library to people in the village.”

  • Worcestershire – School receives books boost from MPWorcester Standard.  “Mr Walker has decided to give the books to Gorse Hill Community Primary School after winning the prize in a library-themed quiz at the launch of the new Libraries Group in the Houses of Parliament.”